Jehovah's Witnesses

Definition: Jehovah's Witnesses
Christian sect originally founded by Charles Taze Russell in the late 19th century. Russell's successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, adopted the name Jehovah's Witness in 1931.
Fast Facts on Jehovah's Witnesses
Adherents 6.5 million
Date Founded 1897
Place Founded Pittsburgh
History Founded by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), 1879, Pittsburgh
Founders Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916)
Branches none
Beliefs One God: Jehovah. No Trinity. Christ is the first creation of God; the Holy Spirit is a force.
Ethics Divorce only in cases of adultery, no premarital sex, no homosexuality. No gambling or drinking to excess. Against abortion.
Practices No blood transfusions, no celebration of holidays, no use of crosses or religious images. Baptism, Sunday service at Kingdom Hall, strong emphasis on evangelism.
Holidays Memorial of Christ's death, celebrated annually. All Christian or other religious-based holidays are rejected as unbiblical and pagan.
Texts New World Translation of the Scriptures
Symbols watchtower (cross rejected as a pagan symbol)

The group now known as the Jehovah's Witnesses was founded in 1879 by Charles Taze Russell, a Pennsylvania businessman. Russell's Adventist background and study of the Bible led him to conclude, among other things, that the second coming of Christ would occur in 1914, that Hellfire did not exist, and God was not a Trinity. Today, there are 6.4 million practicing Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. Witnesses are very active in evangelism and missions, both in the group's original home of the United States and throughout the world.

Jehovah's Witnesses adhere to Russell's teachings on Hell and the Trinity and emphasize the immanent End Times, clean and moral living, the equality of all races, and adherence to the teachings of the Bible. They reject blood transfusions because of the New Testament command to "abstain from blood" and do not vote or serve in the military. Witnesses reject the symbol of the cross, do not celebrate any traditional Christian holidays, and do not celebrate birthdays.